Two men accused in alleged plot to attack Democratic headquarters in Sacramento inspired by Trump’s defeat, DOJ says

Two men accused in alleged plot to attack Democratic headquarters in Sacramento inspired by Trump’s defeat, DOJ says

Five days before the president’s inauguration on January 20 – which prosecutors believe was an important date in the planning of the attack – the Justice Department arrested one of the men who had amassed a large arsenal. Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, California, showed strong support for white supremacy and for Trump, saying in text messages that he realized he would be branded a domestic terrorist, according to legal submissions from the Justice Department.

A man Rogers communicated with, Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, California, was arrested in Sacramento this week, the DOJ said.

Court records referring to extensive encrypted communications between Rogers and Copeland provide alarm for how the men sought to inspire domestic terrorism against Democrats – and how their anti-government motives may still last.

In January, Rogers had told Copeland, “I want to blow up a Democrat who builds poorly,” and Copeland responded unanimously, writing, “Plan attacks.”

The couple discussed “war” after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Justice Department said. They also discussed attacks on George Soros, a billionaire donor who supports liberal causes, and Twitter, which at the time had removed Trump from the social media platform.

“I hope 45 go to war, if not, I will,” Rogers reportedly wrote.

The bigger idea, say the FBI and prosecutors, was that Rogers should become violent near the place where he lived, to get others to similar acts nationwide, according to the court record.

Both men are accused of conspiracy to destroy a building that was used or affecting interstate trade, by fire or explosive.

Rogers is also facing gun charges after investigators found 49 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs in his home and business in January, shortly after they discussed the plan, but before January 20, according to court records. One of the cannons, investigators noted, appeared to be a copy of a fully automatic machine gun used by Nazi troops during World War II, according to a charge document for Rogers. Rogers told investigators after his arrest that the pipe bombs were for “entertainment.”

Rogers and Copeland are currently in custody and have not yet been arrested, and a federal prosecutor said Thursday they remain a threat. “All the political and social conditions that motivated them to plan what they themselves described as a terrorist attack have continued,” the prosecutor wrote in a lawsuit.

Rogers’ lawyer declined to comment, and it was not immediately clear if Copeland had a lawyer. Copeland is due in court in San Francisco on July 20.

Threat from Trump’s rhetoric

Prosecutors, national security officials and politicians have warned that after Trump and his allies exposed his lies about a stolen election in November, and after a crowd of hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, their inflammatory rhetoric lead to violence.

An FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism wrote in court about the announcements, “I think these latter announcements indicate Rogers ‘belief that Trump (” 45 “) actually won the presidential election and should’ go in. war ‘to ensure that he remained in power. “

Prosecutors also say Rogers had written to Copeland months before, in November, that he wanted to “slap the enemy in the mouth” with homemade explosives that attacked the governor’s mansion and the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento, according to the DOJ.

Copeland had told Rogers he was in contact with a militia group against the government and also contacted a militia leader after Rogers’ arrest, who advised him to delete his communications, which he allegedly did, the Justice Department said.

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Investigators found that Rogers had a card that said “white privilege trumps everything,” and that had other references to Trump. He also kept a sticker on his car window indicating support for the three percent, a movement of pro-militia right-wing Americans who believe revolutionaries could overthrow the U.S. government as in the American Revolution.

In various searches, investigators found that Copeland had rifles, a “suitcase” with a helmet, elbow and knee pads, ammunition magazines and handcuffs with a zipper and anabolic steroids.

Prosecutors say the zipper was intended for the men’s plot. “The fact that he still had them six months later indicates that he still thought a situation would arise where he would have to take prisoners,” a Justice Department court said this week. “His feelings are deeply felt and perennial and reflect a belief that the government is illegal. He is unlikely to obey rules imposed on him by a person he considers part of a tyrannical government.”

Prosecutors note that Copeland served in the military but had left in 2016 during a “non-honorable” discharge.

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“It does not matter to our purpose whether the steroids make Copeland more violent and aggressive, or he seeks steroids because he tends to be more violent and aggressive. Either way, he is a greater danger to society,” prosecutors remarked about the steroids. .

At first, Roger’s idea was to use Molotov cocktails and gasoline, and it was a “first target” for the governor’s mansion because he thought it was empty and there would be no loss. “Would send a message,” Rogers reportedly wrote to Copeland, according to court records. “That’s the best goal I think too,” Copeland replied.

Prosecutors say Rogers then decided to change the target to the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento. The two men have reportedly planned over the next two months, prosecutors say. They discussed pipe bombs and gallons of gasoline, including violence at the building, according to their statements included in court records.

Copeland later told investigators he did not take Rogers seriously, though prosecutors claim he encouraged the other man – and according to court records, he was an extremist who at times felt angry at policies that helped him take steroids.

On December 1, Rogers said, “Do you think there’s anything wrong with me, how excited I am to attack the Democrats?” prosecutors told the court.

Trump has repeatedly rejected efforts to control his rhetoric.

At one point, a Republican election official asked Trump on national television to stop his verbal attacks on the election results.

“Someone will be injured, someone will be shot, someone will be killed,” Georgia State Department official Gabe Sterling said on December 1.

Trump responded to Sterling’s comments with a tweet that doubled the false election requirements.

At a demonstration rally before the mob came down to the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump told his supporters that they had to “fight much harder” and that they had to “to show strength.”

“We are fighting like hell, and if you do not fight like hell, you will not have a country anymore,” he said.

In June, the Department of Homeland Security released an intelligence bulletin that issued an intelligence bulletin to state and local police authorities about the growing potential for violent extremist attacks this summer.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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